Reports suggest that commercial home cleaning products contain toxic
chemicals that could affect human health and the environment. An
advocacy group that has sought better regulation and greater disclosure
about cleaning products is promoting a way to help consumers create
their own eco-friendly cleaners. It is called the Green Cleaning
Homemade cleaning products
a Sunday afternoon, a dozen friends of Lauren Ratner gather around her
dining table in her Washington, DC home. On the table are natural
ingredients: castile soap, vegetable glycerin, baking soda, and
distilled white vinegar. They measure and mix equal amounts of
distilled white vinegar with water. And add a few drops of essential
oil, a concentrated oil from plant material.
Host Lauren Ratner says she is interested in the environmental impact. "I
was looking online and I came across the Website. The women and
environment website had information on green products and recipes and
all the frequently asked questions. I just went through the Website,
and I decided that I wanted to do it myself," Ratner said.
An environment-friendly party
Green Cleaning Party was launched about a year ago by Women's Voices
for the Earth, WVE [weave], a group in the western state of Montana.
The group says about 4,500 people have
participated in parties across the nation. WVE released a report called
Household Hazard in 2007. Lisa Woll is president of the board.
Hazard looked at five different chemicals that have an effect on
asthma, infertility and birth defects," Woll said. "That was a sort of beginning
of a lot of our work around getting toxics out of household cleaning
disclosure on cleaning product labels
Product labels also do not tell consumers which ingredients are in the cleaners, the group says.
reality is that if you go into any store, you pick up your average
cleaning products. And if you look at the back, you will see no
information on what is contained in that product," Woll adds. "So you have no way to
evaluate whether what is in there is something that would cause your
Current law does not require full
disclosure on the labels of cleaning products. WVE encourages consumers
to message the manufacturers and ask them to disclose their
Woll says a few companies have begun to list ingredients
on their Websites. "Just this last week, SC Johnson
has come out with probably the broadest labeling proposal of any
manufacturer of household cleaning products, she said. "We consider this a
Home made cleaning products, eco-friendly
At the party, the friends try out their home-made product. They say the eco-friendly cleaners are also good for their wallets.
home made products can cost about 83 cents, less than a dollar, whereas
you are going to pay anywhere from $3.00 - $8.00 per
commercial product," Ratner said.
Laura Hopman is enthusiastic about the party. "During
this type of environment with your friends, and having a good time
chatting, and really seeing just how easy it can be. I think it is a
great way to expose people to this great initiative," she said.
participants say it makes them feel good that the products they are
going to use are not harmful to their health or the environment.